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Scientific American

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Physicist, novelist, and historian of science Alan Lightman opened 2005 with A Sense of the Mysterious: Science and the Human Spirit, a collection of essays on the creative imagination as it applies to science and to art. He closes 2005 with a longer book with a longer title, The Discoveries: Great Breakthroughs in 20th Century Science, Including the Original Papers (Pantheon), and you needn't be a physicist, novelist, or historian of science to profit from its pages. Just come to them with an active interest in the way the physical world works -- whether it's hormones, Relativity, leptons, nucleic acids, the Uncertainty Principle, or quarks. Lightman reproduces the scientific papers that made the major breakthroughs; Lightman -- native Memphian; humanities professor at MIT -- makes those breakthroughs (and the scientists behind them) easier for all to understand.

Alan Lightman, lecture and booksigning, Rose Theatre, the University of Memphis, Thursday, November 10th, 7 p.m.

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